US in talks over possible Mubarak resignation

The U.S. move comes after 10 days of anti-government protests in Egypt.

US in talks over possible Mubarak resignation

The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Under the proposal, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, the Times said, citing administration officials and Arab diplomats.

It also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country's electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the Times said.

Commenting on the report, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "The President, Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton and others have encouraged the Egyptian government to proceed with an orderly transition. Beyond that, we will keep our advice private."

Senior Obama administration officials said the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mubarak, although not him directly, in an effort to convince him to step down now, the paper said.

Although Mubarak has balked so far at leaving immediately, officials from both governments are continuing talks about the plan, the Times said.

Mubarak told ABC News on Thursday that if he stepped down now after days of massive street protests, Egypt would fall into chaos and the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group, would take control, using usual tool to stay in power.

US wants Suleiman?

A U.S. official confirmed the talks.

The U.S. move comes after 10 days of anti-government protests in Egypt and ahead of a mass "Day of Departure" rally planned by protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to force Mubarak to quit.

U.S. officials said on Thursday they were talking to Egyptian officials about a variety of ways to move towards a transition of power, including one in which Mubarak leaves office immediately.

"That's one scenario," said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There are a number of scenarios, but (it is) wrong to suggest we have discussed only one with the Egyptians."

The White House would not confirm the Times report but said discussions have been under way with Egyptians in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

The Times also quoted a senior Egyptian official as saying that what Washington was asking for could not be done, citing clauses in the Egyptian Constitution that bar the vice president from assuming power. Under the constitution, the speaker of parliament would succeed the president.

"That's my technical answer," the official added. "My political answer is they should mind their own business."

Moving to defuse an unprecedented challenge to his 30-year-rule, Mubarak appointed Suleiman, a former intelligence chief, as vice-president and offered talks on reforms.

But that has failed to satisfy protesters who are hoping to rally thousands of Egyptians on Friday for a fresh demonstration to try to force Mubarak to quit now.

"US interests"

Amid concerns that a wave of protests that erupted in Tunisia and then Egypt could spread to other Middle Eastern capitals, Obama phoned Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to follow up his pledges of reform with concrete actions.

The White House said Obama also told Saleh "it is imperative that Yemen take forceful action against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Clinton spoke to Jordan's King Abdullah on Thursday to discuss Egypt and to express support for his own recent reforms, part of a wave of change by authoritarian governments across the Middle East seeking to head off Egypt-style unrest.

Agencies

Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2011, 14:34
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